Silver fern flag

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The most common version of the Silver Fern flag, similar to the All Blacks logo.

The silver fern flag is any flag design that incorporates a silver fern, and is usually a white silver fern on a black background. The silver fern motif is associated with New Zealand, and a silver fern flag may be used as an unofficial flag of New Zealand. The silver fern itself is a quasi-national emblem, being used for various official symbols, including the coat of arms of New Zealand and the New Zealand one dollar coin. A number of New Zealand sports teams, such as the cricket team, the Silver Ferns and the All Blacks, use similar silver fern flags as part of their official merchandise. The All Whites association football team use a white background and a black version of the fern.

The silver fern was first used on New Zealand military insignia during the South African War[1] (1899–1902), and along with it the United Tribes of New Zealand flag design was also featured on the back of the Boer War medals presented to soldiers who served in the war.[2]

1980 Moscow Summer Olympics[edit]

New Zealand officially boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics as part of the US-led boycott of the games. However, four New Zealand athletes competed under the flag of New Zealand's Olympic committee, which was a black flag with a white silver fern imposed over the Olympic Rings.[3]

National flag proposals[edit]

The first suggestion that a silver fern flag be adopted as New Zealand's official flag came in 1998 from Cultural Affairs Minister Marie Hasler of the National Party.[4] Hasler's proposal was backed by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley. Along with the New Zealand Tourism Board, Shipley backed a white silver fern on a black background as a possible alternative flag, along the lines of the Canadian Maple Leaf flag.

In 2003, New Zealand's America's Cup team, Team New Zealand, launched the "Loyal" campaign, using a silver fern flag and a song of the same name by New Zealand musician Dave Dobbyn.

While the silver fern flag is favoured by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, opponents of the design believe it gives undue emphasis to the country's sport or resembles a pirate flag.[5]

Referendum proposal[edit]

In January 2005 the NZ Trust, using a stylised silver fern flag designed by Cameron Sanders, launched a petition to initiate a referendum on the flag issue, but failed to attract enough signatures.

On 11 March 2014, the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key announced a referendum on whether to change the New Zealand flag or not, to be held within three years, saying that he liked the silver fern as an option.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Digger History: Badges of New Zealand
  2. ^ Digger History: Medals of New Zealand
  3. ^ 1980 Moscow Olympics boycott NZ
  4. ^ John Moody. "Past Attempts to Change New Zealand's Flag". The XIX International Congress of Vexillology. 
  5. ^ "New Zealand plans vote on changing national flag". The Washington Post. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Campbell Live Flag Poll". TV3. 8 April 2005. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "New Zealand to hold referendum on national flag". 11 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 

External links[edit]